Davey

Age: not known

Davey
 
 
I came to live in Newcastle with my partner in social housing where he held the tenancy.

We were both HIV Positive. He went on to develop full blown AIDS and died. When he died the council wouldn’t transfer the tenancy to me and I had 48 days to find somewhere else. It sounds like a long time but when you’re grieving it’s hard. I ended up on the streets.

I still have HIV but don’t have AIDS. It’s controlled with medication. You are the first person who hasn’t jumped back when I’ve told them I’ve got HIV. People still think you can get it from touching somebody. It’s like nothing’s changed since the 1980s.

I sleep in a little place in the station I’m not supposed to be. I get thrown out if I’m spotted then go up Pink Lane, but there’s too many drunks up there. I try to avoid the drunks and alcoholics.

I gave Davey a couple of quid, and after talking to him asked if I could buy him some food or drink for later. He said no, he had enough for today.

I left him sitting outside of Greggs, not having taken a photograph. Talking to Davey made me feel very conflicted about this project and my motivations for doing it. Am I doing it for me, or for the homeless or for both? Does it even matter who I’m doing it for? I headed off down to the Quayside to take some photographs in the fog, still thinking about Davey. After an hour or so of walking around the Quayside I headed back the way I came, intent on speaking to Davey again to ask if he would like something hot, (the fog was damp and chilling), even just a carton of soup from Greggs or a hot pastry.

When I got back to him, he was as you see in this photograph. Maybe simply sleeping, perhaps passed out through other means. I honestly don’t know. When we first spoke there was no indication that he had been drinking. He was articulate and bright. So I don’t know. I question if I should even post his photograph as I’ve not been able to ask him if it’s okay. I decided to because Davey isn’t easily identifiable from the photograph. I will go back to see he’s there again next time I’m in Newcastle and to ask for a proper portrait.

What strikes is me is that in an area of plenty (this Greggs opens until 4:00 am such is the demand for their products) people like Davey have to sit outside and hope for some kindness from strangers. When I first saw him, he wasn’t begging, he was simply sitting there, not asking anybody for anything. Two steps and he would be inside, warm with hot drinks and food in abundance. But that’s not Davey’s life. I wonder if it ever will be.

The Greggs poster - “Sub-Zero Hero” - rings a bit hollow with Davey asleep in the damp outside.